He was numbered with transgressors.
Mark 15 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate. 2 Pilate questioned Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him, “It is as you say.” 3 The chief priests began to accuse Him harshly. 4 Then Pilate questioned Him again, saying, “Do You not answer? See how many charges they bring against You!” 5 But Jesus made no further answer; so Pilate was amazed.
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested. 7 The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 The crowd went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them. 9 Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 14 But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” 15 Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
16 The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. 17 They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; 18 and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. 20 After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him.
21 They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.
22 Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it. 24 And they crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take. 25 It was the third hour when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge against Him read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
27 They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.” 29 Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.
33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
In today’s text we see that the people were given a choice between Jesus and a rebellious murderer named Barabbas. It is amazing what people will choose in order to reject Christ. It is probably no coincidence that that Barabbas was a leader of the insurrection, a leader of rebellion and a murderer. That is really the choice everyone has to make. In John 10:10 Jesus says: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” That is the choice the people were given. That is the choice we all make, rebellion, death and destruction or Christ, the king and abundant life. We can try to justify our choice with any human philosophy and with words like tolerance and inclusion, but to chose rebellion over the righteousness of Christ is to stand under what God says in Isaiah 5:20: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Jesus Himself says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” Good or evil, darkness or light, the righteous one or the rebellious one, Christ or the thief, through the ages the choice is given to each one.
In today’s text it says: They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.” Many people today like to use the scripture references to Jesus associating with outcasts and sinners to make a case that Jesus preferred the company of sinners to the company of religious people. Indeed, during His life Jesus did associate with sinners and outcasts, with prostitutes and the “unclean” of society, but His purpose then, was just as it was when referenced in today’s text. He was numbered with transgressors, not because that was His preference, He was numbered with transgressors, He was crucified along with them for salvation. Jesus said: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) Jesus didn’t come to hang out with sinners. He came to be crucified, to be hung on the cross for sinners. In both His life and His death, His purpose for sinners was the same. Jesus came to save them from sin.
In the text we see that Jesus was taunted and challenged while on the cross. Many mocked Him saying if He was truly the Christ, He should come down from the cross and save Himself. They didn’t understand. Jesus didn’t need to be saved. He came to bring salvation. In the text it says: When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. (John 19:30, tells us what this loud cry was: Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.) And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Jesus didn’t come down from the cross, not because He was not able, but because, as the centurion noted, He “truly was the Son of God!” “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” As it is often said, it wasn’t the nails that held Jesus to the cross; it was love, the love of God, so that all who believe shall not perish.
When the work of the cross was finished, the veil of the temple was torn in two. The veil that since the sin of Adam and Eve had separated man from the holiness and righteousness of God was no longer needed. Through Christ and the finished work of the cross we were redeemed from sin, reconciled back to full relationship with God and restored to all that God intended. Still even today, just as in the garden, just as the people in today’s text, we have a choice. We have a choice of who and what we will choose to follow, God or the serpent, Jesus or Barabbas, good or evil, light or darkness. We choose whether we will mock or embrace the cross and the Christ.
Thank You Heavenly Father for Your love, that You sent Your Son Jesus to pay the price for my sin. Thank You Jesus, that it was Your love and obedience that kept You on the cross to finish the work You came to do, to seek and save the lost. Not to hang out with sinners but that because of love You hung and died for them, for me. Thank You for the open veil, that I can come to You, holy and acceptable, because of the cross. Amen.